China announces domestic ivory trade ban

(Sept. 25, 2015 – London, UK) The President of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, on a state visit to the United States, and the US President, Barack Obama, have made history by announcing that the two countries would take swift action to protect elephants from the ongoing poaching crisis.

In a joint statement, the Presidents committed to enacting “nearly complete bans on ivory imports and exports, including significant and timely restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies,” and promised to “take significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.”  In addition, the two leaders pledged further cooperation to halt the surge of wildlife trafficking that imperils countless species around the world. The United States government had already committed to a “near total ban” on ivory trade, and this represents a major step forward by their Chinese counterparts.

“Mr Xi has today delivered a tremendous victory in the battle to save elephants,” said Azzedine Downes, CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

It is estimated that 35,000 elephants are killed every year—or one every 15 minutes—for the ivory trade.

“Today China has slammed the door in the face of all those who are profiting from the slaughter of elephants,” said Mr. Downes. “As the world’s largest market for legal and illegal ivory, this ban will save the lives of tens of thousands of elephants.”

China’s ivory trade ban follows the announcement by President Obama of strict new ivory regulations which will lead to a massive reduction in ivory sales in the United States—one of the world’s top markets for ivory. These regulations are not yet finalised and are still open for public comment through until September 28. The regulations would prohibit the sale of most ivory items across state lines, and would further restrict imports and exports, with some limited exceptions.

The new US regulations are a good step toward closing longstanding loopholes that have allowed the illicit trafficking of elephant parts to thrive. If the Chinese government takes similar steps, and the US and China commit to strong enforcement of these measures, it would represent a major breakthrough in stopping this illegal trade which is killing tens of thousands of elephants every year.

“IFAW’s behaviour change campaign has reduced the demand for ivory in China through improving consumers’ knowledge that elephants are killed for their ivory, thereby changing consumer attitudes and altering buying practice, leading to a significant reduction in the desire to buy ivory,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director of IFAW.

“Banning ivory trade in China combined with vigorous enforcement and meaningful penalties for violators will stigmatise ivory consumption, supporting demand reduction efforts.

UK Director of IFAW, Philip Mansbridge, added: “It is ground-breaking that global powers are taking the leadership role in the fight to save elephants. Here at home the UK Government has led the way in fighting wildlife crime overseas with the London Conference and Declaration of 2014. Our Government must now deliver on its manifesto commitment to ‘press for a total ban on ivory sales’ to keep up with the global momentum now building to be the generation that saves the elephant.”

Extensive further press resources; including links to photos, videos and details of IFAW press spokespeople here:

US –   Kerry Branon, Media Relations Manager,, 508-744-2068; 508-776-9872
UK – Ally MacDonald, Communications Officer,, 0207 587 6725, 07860 755876

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos of our work are available at